Batman: The Dark Knight #2 was written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by David Finch. As usual, they co-plotted the issue.
The issue opens with Two-Face, who I commented looked like he was on steroids, beating the tar out of Batman. The motif of fear and our relationship to it continue as Batman's inner monologue during the beating. Two-Face tells Batman he's learned fear is what stops people from really living. He waxes poetic about how losing inhibitions liberates people. Just as he says it's allowing him to see, he begins bleeding from his eyes.
After Two-Face is incarcerated, Batman and Commissioner Gordon meet on the roof to discuss the break-out. According to a few inmates, they were injected with something and claimed to see a white rabbit. There were syringes dropped all over the asylum. Unfortunately, the only one in any shape to talk is Two-Face and he hasn't said anything coherent. Batman takes the syringes to analyze. Gordon begins talking about the internal affairs investigation and whether any of this is worth it. In a typical move, Gordon confesses Batman is probably the only friend he has left just in time to turn and realize he's talking to himself.
In the Batmobile, Batman discusses the breakout with Alfred. They are coordinating their efforts with those of the local police to bring in the drug-addled sociopaths littering the city. Batman uploads a sample for Alfred to analyze. The early report indicates a similarity to Scarecrow's fear toxin. From there, Alfred begins to list off Bruce Wayne's social calendar. Batman cancels everything with regrets except for a dinner with Jaina Hudson.
From there, we go across town to see Nightwing and Robin battling a drugged-up Ventriloquist. Because they broke Scarface, the Ventriloquist begins attacking. In the Narrows, Batgirl fights off Zsasz. Crime Alley has the Birds of Prey attacking Clock King and Devil's Square has Batwoman fighting off a villain I don't recognize offhand. The one thing in common is the unusually hulked up appearance of each.
Back at the hospital, Batman attempts to speak to Harvey Dent. He recognizes the drug is something Harvey's system is going to crave, and he vows to get it off the streets. Alfred comes through with a more complete analysis of the drug and the location of the Joker. It seems the drug blocks fear but the body attempts to reject it through bleeding from the eyes and the nasal mucous membrane. The Joker, it turns out, has commandeered a train.
Batman fights his way onto the train, only to find the White Rabbit everyone has been talking about. She leads him on a chase to the train, where we see the Joker, every bit as buffed up as every other villain.
As with every issue, I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, the art is absolutely stunning. A good portion of the credit for this goes to Alex Sinclair, who does a fantastic job coloring. Each villain, drawn to the nth degree, is amazing to look at.
On the other hand, I still feel like the plot is a little weak. I don't see the point in drawing Nightwing and Robin, Batgirl, the Birds of Prey, and Batwoman, except as an excuse to draw them. Yes, in the last issue I commented that I couldn't see Batman not calling his allies, but the fact is, he didn't. These characters are either just thrown in as page filler or as an excuse for David Finch to draw both the villains and the heroes he wouldn't get to draw otherwise. This isn't a cross-over issue, and the inclusion of everyone felt extraneous. I still don't like Jaina, and that is unlikely to change. However, the subplot of IA investigating Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon has thickened enough that I'm ready to accept it.
Slightly higher than the last issue, reflecting that I did like this issue better, for all its flaws.
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman